I'm pretty experimental with my beauty routine, it's true. Over-lining my lips? Great! Baking my concealer? Cool. Strobing? Same. But then, theres contouring my face. That's where things used to get a bit fuzzy for me. I never contoured, because I thought contouring didn't flatter my face. That is, until I found what the problem was: I wasn't using cool-toned contouring products.
When you’re wearing a full coverage base, as I sometimes do, you’re taking all of the natural light, color, and shadow out of your skin, so it’s not always a bad idea to add some of it back in. I’m a pretty fair skinned guy, and I’ve seen people with my skin tone sculpt their face using warm browns — but those never worked for me.
When I started using light browns that lean gray, things started to change. Now, I’m talking light — if you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was a pan of eyeshadow. They’re the only thing that really minimize my forehead and sculpt my cheeks without making my coloring look unnatural.
One important thing to note: These shades are only going to work for fair-skinned people, but all of products are available in a range of cool-toned shades, so people of all skin tones can still get a contour that mimics a shadow — in other words, the right shade for their skin tone.
Here’s how I do it.
1. Apply Foundation
So here I am wearing a full coverage foundation. It’s the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick, $46, from Sephora, for those of you keeping track. I’m obsessed
with it. Now, my face here looks fine, but with a base this full coverage, I always
like to add some dimension so my face doesn’t get mistaken for a pancake.
Full disclosure: I'm also wearing brows, a lip, eyeshadow, and mascara.
2. Start To Sculpt
Next, we start in with one of my favorite light sculpting powders, Makeup Geek's Contour Powder in Love Triangle. Makeup Geek has a full eight shades of powder contour for many skin tones. They're very cooperative to use, being as buildable as they are blendable. This shade is one of the two lightest shades, actually being the warmer of the two, but works nicely with my neutral undertones.
I use a long tapered brush to sculpt my face. I know this is not the norm, but I'm just trying to make the edges of this enormous forehead recess a bit and softly enhance my cheekbones. A brush like this has a lot of give and blends beautifully, allowing me to work the coverage up to right where I want it.
I hit my corners of my forehead first, drag it across my hairline, and then down, right below the high points of my cheekbones.
I also don't drag my contour down as far as a lot of people do. I like how in makes my cheekbones pop without elongating them, and doesn't clash with my beard.
Oh also, another favorite product for this, one that's even lighter and cooler, is The Sculpting Powder by Kevin Aucoin in Light.
I know, they look very similar, but there is a difference, see?
Some other options that give you a some room to figure out what shades are right for you are the Kat Von D Shade + Light Face Contour Refillable Palette and the LORAC PRO Conceal/Contour Palette.
Usually I'll just use the one sculpting shade, but if I'm really serious about cutting these features, I'll go back in and use the Makeup Geek sculpting powder in a shade darker, Infidelity, and just lightly touch it to the very back of my temples and cheekbones.
3. Add Some Bronze
I hate to add another step to this but you'll thank me. Bronzer works as the transition shade between your contour and your foundation. Now, I know what you're thinking. I felt the same way about a "transition shade" for your contour as I did about using a spoolie for your mascara: that it was extra and unnecessary. Until I started using it.
All I can tell you is that it works. It adds just enough of a gradation to blend your lighter foundation and your darker contour color to fuse them altogether. I contoured without bronzer for a while, and it looked fine, I looked great, but I started using bronzer and was like oh that's what they're all talking about.
I use Milk Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer, the lightest shade of bronzer from Too Faced. They've got a medium and dark matte bronzer to warm up many skin tones, and they all smell like chocolate in the pan, which never gets less weird.
I know I've been ranting about how cool-toned contours are the way to go and now I'm talking about bronzer, the antithesis of cool-toned beauty, but it adds just a touch of warmth to your skin blending the light to dark that makes it all seamless.
Sometimes, I'll take a little translucent powder big floofy brush to finish everything off, finally blending everything together before I set with a spray. I don't always, I hate layering powders for fear of looking caked, but definitely go by feel.
Oh, speaking of caking it on, time to highlight.
You can use your fave, but I used Fireball by Urban Decay because I love that little bit of pink flash it has. Since I focused so much on adding depth to our face, I wanted to bring out the high points, too, to balance it out. that, and I'm obsessed with highlighting.
Lock it all in with a setting spray and you're good to go.
How about a little before and after to remind you how far we've come in just a few minutes?
See? It's subtle, but it makes all the difference. With just a couple minutes and the right products, my face looks more defined, warmer, and healthier. All of this by using the right cool-toned products for my skin — it's not so bad, is it?
Images: Author's Own